Ian Darke is the face of soccer broadcasting in the United States. The famous English broadcaster has been with ESPN for their coverage of the FIFA World Cup since 2010. His voice has been one of exuberance for many soccer fans in America and it had almost been even better if you were the rare combination of a soccer and college football fan.
According to a podcast done by Sports Illustrated, Darke had been approached in 2010 about possibly using his voice talents to broadcast college football for ESPN.
Well, it’s not crazy as it sounds. During this week’s SI Media Podcast, Darke recalled a conversation in South Africa after the 2010 World Cup in which an ESPN manager asked him if he’d consider calling college football for the network.
“The idea was floated in my general direction but it lasted no further than 15 seconds because I said, ‘Look, I would be found out,'” Darke said. “I’m a soccer announcer. And that’s what I am…I think you have to know your limitations. It is very difficult if it’s not a sport you have lived with and is in your soul for the whole of your life, to pick it up and sound authentic. Because you are broadcasting to a new audience who know so much about it.”
Part of Darke’s also reminisced seeing fellow broadcaster Gus Johnson in the opposite situation.
Darke said he admired the attempt of Fox Sports announcer Gus Johnson to make a go of it in soccer because of how difficult the sport is to pick up. In Sept. 2014 Johnson stepped down as Fox’s No. 1 soccer broadcaster after calling Champions League games for two years. Johnson told Sports Illustrated at the time that he called Fox Sports president Eric Shanks and explained that with a full schedule of college football and college basketball, he could not give soccer the attention it deserved and that viewers demanded of a lead broadcaster. Shanks then agreed to pull Johnson off the assignment.
Said Darke: “What Gus did was brave to take that on because if someone said to me: ‘Go out and call NFL next week.’ I would say no. Why? Because I’m going to get found out within a matter of seconds.”
Regardless of his reasoning, all fans of Darke would’ve loved to see the master of English football try his hand at the American version.